Do you want to take more game home? On this episode I am going to cover the single most important thing you can do to improve your hunting success rate. In short, I am talking about practice, specifically sporting clays practice, thought trap shooting and skeet can be helpful as well. This is mainly for shotgun hunters but there is also some application for rifle hunters as well. No gear you can buy will help you more than realistic practice. Skills will always trump equipment.
In my experience, the average wing shooter takes home about 30% of the birds they shoot at. Some are better, some are worse. A better shotgun will not do much to improve this. Better ammo will only do so much. Better base layers, camouflage, gloves, calls, etc, will do almost nothing to help this average. The single biggest thing that will help is practice. And that just so happens to be the single most overlooked thing that hunters do and spend money on…
If you want to take more game, you need to practice more. That involves trap shooting, skeet shooting, and most importantly sporting clays shooting. All center around shooting at a clay disc out of the air, often referred to as a clay pigeon. These clay targets can be easily purchased at many big box stores for somewhere around $10 per 100.
- Trap Shooting involves clay targets that are launched away from the shooter at various angles to simulate a bird flushing and flying away. It gets its name from historical practice that was once done when the shooter would call “pull” and someone would pull the pin holding the trap door shut on a cage and thus allowing real birds to flush away from the cage as target practice.
- Skeet Shooting essentially involves firing at clay targets passing or crossing in front of the shooter, similar to real birds passing by or being flushed by a dog or another party. The name “skeet” is believed to come from the Norwegian word “skyte” which means “shoot.”
- Sporting Clays has some similarities to golf as it is a multi-position or hole course. No two courses are identical and often contain 20 positions with a total of 100 clay targets on a full course. Each position features multiple clays launched from various angles, and directions, all unique, simulating a wide range of real-world hunting situations from ducks to pheasants, grouse, doves, and many more.
Each sport is great fun and has great value. But I do believe that sporting clays provides the best hunting practice out there. And the variety of courses adds great realism and infinite shooting possibilities to simulate real hunting conditions.
Typically sporting clays courses cost between $40-$75 for a full 20 position course with 100 clay targets, plus the cost of ammunition. So realistically, you are looking at around $100 per outing. This is not cheap, but neither are the many highly marketed products that hunters pour money into every year for minimal benefit.
I would recommend you toss $10 a paycheck into your sporting clays jar and go practice 2-3 times a year to start. The skills you gain will be valuable for a lifetime, and even if they dull some over time, picking it back up is a lot like riding a bicycle. This will do more to improve your percentage of shots fired to birds taken home than anything else you can spend money on.
Get out there and get some practice. Listen to the full podcast episode for more!